The War Against Magic

My mother looked for it everywhere, but the only magic she found was inertia. I used to think stability was an intimate black hole and a sofa covered in plastic. But my umbilical cord was locked to a sunken bridge and I envied the sway of river weed. There were two bridges: mine and the bridge that replaced it. My bridge was weighted to the bottom, a walkway for fish. Evolution told me that one day the fish would grow feet and stop at store fronts to window shop. Science provided the logic that made sense out of everything. But the day the magician stood on the new bridge and looked down at me chained to the old bridge, my mother swooned to his side. How had she surfaced? Why was I still holding my breath? The magician’s tux was lined with red satin — his claim to legitimacy — though his cummerbund could have been second hand. For three years he seduced my mother by day and then taunted me with rabbit tricks at night. Each night I wanted to believe the rabbit would be more than a hurried prop. To my shame, there were light shows illuminating the new bridge’s stays. Crowds gathered just feet away from where I hid in the magician’s trunk. The real magic is that one day I stepped through a door and half of my body was missing, half my memory had been sawed away. In retrospect, the audience was in on the act.

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